Russian “Collusion,” Clinton Lies and the Secular Priests of Neoliberalism

Last Wednesday’s Democracy Now posed a superficially vexing question to the two Pulitzer Prize winning journalists it had invited to appear on the program.

How could they have reached radically different conclusions on the recently released Mueller report?

One of these, David Cay Johnston, was not shy about offering his explanation.

The discrepancy was due to a basic difference in journalistic approach: Johnston, he claimed, was “not driven here at all by emotion. . . I deal in facts that I can prove and verify.” Johnston was distinguishing himself from the other invitee, Pulitzer winner Glenn Greenwald, who, Johnston inferred, deals in the realm of speculation and irrationality.

Continue reading Russian “Collusion,” Clinton Lies and the Secular Priests of Neoliberalism

Brown on the Right and Left: Trump and Counterpunch Lie on Green Energy

While they continue to shock, Donald Trump’s promotion of idiocies such as “wind mills cause cancer” no longer comes as much of a surprise.

What does seem worth recalling in this connection is that similar canards were being widely circulated some years ago-not only by the corporate right but by the radical left, in particular, by the iconic alternative website Counterpunch. The vector for these was the fossil fuel industry shill Robert Bryce who was a regular presence promoting what can now be seen as overblown and in many instances dishonest claims with respect to the environmental harms associated with renewable energy sources.

Counterpunch providing access to Bryce was the first of many indications of their potential to undermine the left’s credibility by associating it with right wing rogues, conspiratorialist lunacy and fringe lunatics. When they became a leading voice of anti-Sanders smears, including demonstrably false charges targeting the racism and sexism of Bernie Bros indistinguishable from those emanating from the Clinton campaign it became clear to me that the influence was, on balance, harmful. When they became a leading voice of the addled Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary tendency which played a role in bringing us the catastrophe we are now experiencing, it became apparent that they were best ignored.

That’s not to say that they don’t continue to run solid and, in some cases, important pieces. And the apparent conversion of some of their shrillest and most irrational exponents of anarcho-ultra leftism to at least lukewarm support of the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez/Omar insurgency is a favorable development.

It would be nice if they found themselves able to issue an apology to their readers. But, as I’ve noted many times, the pundit class of all political orientations is constitutionally incapable of admitting error.

We would all be better off if they did, though I’m not holding my breath.

Winners and Losers of Russiagate: A Nine Point Post-Mortem

1) Reduced by Attorney General Barr to its “principle conclusions“, the Mueller report has created two categories which usually result from the resolution of a significant political dispute: winners and losers. The former is defined in this instance as those whose reputation will be enhanced from their having being right while the latter are those whose reputation will suffer from their having being wrong.

2) The most conspicuous winner is, of course, Donald Trump. His having predicted that no indictments would result from the two year inquiry will solidify his anti-establishment credentials within his base. He will continue to portray himself as a victim of the lying media and Washington insiders who have, from the beginning, sought to overturn an electoral result they found unacceptable. Russia is sure to be a centerpiece of his campaign from now until until November 2020.

Continue reading Winners and Losers of Russiagate: A Nine Point Post-Mortem

Amen Choruses (2016) for Violin and Piano

Julie Rosenfeld and John Halle


Julie Rosenfeld (violin); Peter Miyamoto (piano) ALBANY 1717 

amen.choruses.recording - Score

Download the score:

Amen Choruses/piano
Download the violin part:
Amen Choruses/violin


Amen Choruses . . .  starts off as a free-wheeling exploration of a jazz gesture, with the repetitions of fragments at first hinting at that idea of “post-Minimalism.” It is more complex than that, though. A glorious, and fun, stream of consciousness on the “Amen Cadence” is heard at the end of gospel or soul jazz classics of the 1950s; a central darkening, with the violin musing over subterranean piano grumblings, offers contrast. Rosenfeld’s stopping is impeccable, as is, compositionally, the structuring of the piece, which leads us with seeming inevitability up hill and down dale.

Performing Arts Review:

John Halle’s Amen Choruses (2016)is immediately accessible to the listener, a gauzy jazz temperament lending subtle, gospel ambiance to its uplifting mission,

American Record Guide:

John Halle’s Amen Choruses is summertime Americana at its best: sumptuous and laidback, with plenty of blue notes and dapper swagger.


Area Man Turns 60. Will No Longer Tell People What to Do


Area Man Turns 60. Will No Longer Tell People What to Do


3/24/19 12:30 PM

Red Hook, NY—Declaring that upon reaching the age of sixty he would no longer tell people what to do, Bard College Conservatory Music Theory Professor John Halle announced an event to ambivalently commemorate the occasion.  Others are invited to join him.

The event will take place at the Bito Auditorium of Bard Conservatory at 12:30 P.M  (Please note: TIME CHANGE!) on March 24th.   Attendees are invited to a reception at his house in Red Hook beginning at approximately 3 PM.

Former and current students, colleagues, friends and acquaintances are encouraged to participate by contributing a performance of a piece of their own or others, readings of 19thcentury anarchist tracts, obscure monographs on the philosophy of language or epistemology. Also welcomed are polemics attacking or defending the core premises of Halle’s politics and aesthetics, insofar as these are understood.

A selection of Halle’s works from 1982 to 2019 will be performed by Halle at the event.

These will include Invisible Hand (1996), a quintet, featuring trumpeter Hugo Moreno, alto saxist Adam Siegel, bassist Nick Edwards and percussionist David Stevens.   Two solo piano works will follow, Standard Deviations I (1983) and Towerology (2019) written for Halle’s colleague and friend composer Joan Tower,  Then, two ragtime pieces Rozology (2002) and Bookend (2011) will display  the talents of violinist Matthew Woodard and violist Marka Gustavsson.  The final piece,  Many Returns (2005) will feature Marka and the violinist Helen Baille.

Asked why he will no longer tell people what to do, Halle responded, “because there are better ways of getting things done.”

He (and Marka and Ben) hope to see you all.

(RSVP to [email protected]).



Stand with Ilhan Omar and Win: It’s not Complicated

That the New York Times  is somewhat less of a sewer than it has been is primarily due to the presence of the two Michelles, Alexander and Goldberg, both whom reliably and effectively articulate a left/liberal perspective on its op-ed page.

Though they represent an improvement, a significant point of continuity should be mentioned: the Times remains a Bernie free zone. Neither endorsed Sanders in 2016. Their having failed to do so is an indication of their maintaining the “this far and no further” tradition of Times liberals of years past.

This was personified most notably by Anthony Lewis who famously referred to our genocidal conduct in Southeast Asia as “blundering efforts to do good” thereby distancing himself from irresponsible radicals of the new left who regarded the war as “an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men.”

Goldberg’s recent column on Ilhan Omar can be seen as more of the same pox on both houses philosophy. Thus, Goldberg correctly savages the right’s cynical weaponizing of the anti-semitism smear.  But at the same time, she accepts the fundamental basis of their charge that Omar’s remarks were indeed anti-semitic.

That they were nothing of the kind should be apparent to anyone capable of minimal objectivity. Furthermore, by now we have decades of experience with the consequences of deploying this well worn triangulatory gambit.

A surefire way of losing to the right is to criticize their positions while conceding their underlying factual premises on which they are based. Whether on crime, austerity, the environment, health care, or education, every time we have done so, we have lost.

Sometimes politics isn’t complicated. In fact, it almost never is.

The only thing that needs to be said about this affair is very simple: #IstandwithIlhan.

Bernie or Barbarism: A Response to Peter Frase

Peter Frase’s contribution to the debate on how the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) should relate to the Sanders campaign gets a lot of things right. That includes the most important thing which is that “local base-building and cultivating successful local candidates is still the key task” for the DSA.

Peter’s also right that if we do our job, it will eventually lead to “one, two, many AOCs and Julia Salazars.” And he might have added others DSA members who have won elections, among them Lee Carter of the Virginia General Assembly as well as Sara Innamorato, Summer Lee, Elizabeth Fiedler and Kristin Seale, now serving in the Pennsylvania state legislature,

And finally, he’s right that we need to maintain our independence from the Sanders campaign and the Democratic Party generally.

Where I part company with him is on his characterization of “a personality cult around Daddy Bernie” which regards criticism of Sanders as “a betrayal of the political revolution.”
I think I’m typical of DSA Bernie supporters in that I’m ready and willing to criticize Sanders and to do as Peter suggests in “hold(ing) him accountable” by protest for his policies should he take office.

But granting that that might be necessary is a separate question from whether it’s likely that’s what we will be doing, and here I think it’s fairly apparent that it’s not.

That is, we will be protesting during a Sanders administration but we won’t be protesting Sanders. Rather we will be protesting those opposed to key Sanders policies, such as Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, expanding Social Security and free college.

Furthermore, we in the Hudson Valley should know that that’s what we’ll be doing since we are already protesting our own newly elected congressman Anthony Delgado who in less than three months in Congress has managed to position himself on the wrong side of every issue which Sanders forces have advanced. This includes, but is not limited to his failure to sign on to congressional resolutions supporting Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, or to increase Social Security benefits. Delgado also voted for amendments watering down Ro Khanna’s war powers resolution and to firearm background check legislation.


Given this record, it seems likely if not certain that Delgado will ally with other Blue Dog Democrats to block major parts of the first hundred days initiatives of a Sanders administration. At that point, it will be clear that the success of Sanders legislative agenda requires a congress which reflects rather than rejects his views and that will mean recruitment of a primary challenger to Delgado in 2022.

That brings us back to Peter’s bottom line which bears repeating: “local base-building and cultivating successful local candidates is still the key task” for it is this local foundation which will provide crucial support to Delgado’s challenger. At best, the challenger will be a candidate we helped to advance through activism and through local and state office.

We must begin building this foundation now. But not with the expectation that we will be using it to it protest Sanders. Rather, it will be the opposite-it will be to support the Sanders agenda.
Furthermore, rather than opposing the DSA, Sanders will welcome our working to develop a base of power independent of his campaign and of the Democratic Party hierarchy.   We shouldn’t be viewing the Sanders campaign through the lens of our inevitable opposition to Sanders administration compromises but with an eye to the crucial role we can play in defending it from attacks by the Democratic Party establishment.

Finally, I’ll mention that all that assumes Sanders winning the presidency. Peter quite reasonably devotes several sentences to considering the two other possibly outcomes of the 2020 election, namely, a Sanders loss in the primary or in the general election.
I won’t discuss these other than noting that either will be catastrophic: a Trump or Pence presidency  means four more years of climate denial amounting to a death sentence for our species. Not much better than climate denial, as AOC recently observed,  will be the next neoliberal Democrat delaying action on climate,.

Should either of these futures materialize, the DSA will be the least of our problems.

Thinking and arguing about them while confronting the increasingly imminent specter of environmental ruin will very soon become luxuries we will not be able to afford.

Sanders’s socialism-whatever our reservations about it-is the only viable option to the barbarism which will confront us if we don’t make it a reality.

Elizabeth Warren for President: A 10 Point (non) Endorsement

1) Elizabeth Warren is familiar and attractive to people like you and me. I’ve never met her, but I like her in roughly the same way that many voters “liked” George W. Bush: I would enjoy “having a beer with her”. Most of those of my acquaintances feel the same way.

2) 1) is not a recommendation. Quite the opposite in fact and that’s because a likely majority of the population distrusts and dislikes people like you and me. It has good reason to do so, as I discussed here.

3) 2) in part explains why Warren routinely polls substantially worse than other Democrats in head to head match ups with Trump. It also explains her dismal campaign rollout, achieving only $299,000 in donations from a trickle of supporters, in comparison to the $6 million and 600,000 strong army of volunteers raised by Bernie Sanders.
Continue reading Elizabeth Warren for President: A 10 Point (non) Endorsement

Why Pelosi, Schumer and Hoyer Must Apologize to Rep. Omar

  1. When Congresswoman Ilhan Omar circulated on twitter the single word “Benjamins”,  she was simply stating what we all know to be true and what scholars have shown to be the case: our current politics are dominated by money and those with access to large amounts of it.
  2. This is an uncontroversial fact, having nothing to do with religion, race or ethnicity. On this basis, Omar’s observation was in no way anti-semitic, something which many Jews have subsequently attested to and insisted on.
  3. Rather, the charge of anti-semitism was circulated by three figures, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who routinely pocket millions of “Benjamins” by providing access and favors to major lobbies including but by no means limited to AIPAC.
  4. As has frequently been the case, the charge of anti-semitism was issued in bad faith by these and other congressional leaders seeking to obscure their own complicity in the corrupt arrangements which Omar’s tweet highlights.
  5. Accompanying their charge was the usual demand that Congresswoman Omar apologize.
  6. As noted in 2, Congresswoman Omar stated an obvious and uncontroversial truth and has nothing to apologize for.
  7. Rather, it is Congresswoman Omar who should receive an unambiguous and unconditional apology from congressional leaders who, rather than nurture and support a newly elected member, participated in an attempt to smear her reputation.
  8. Their apologies to Congresswoman Omar should be only the beginning of those they should be extending to the Democratic Party and to the American people. It was, after all, their abject failures in leadership which led directly to the loss of over 1000 Democratic seats to the Republicans and to the unparalled environment, economic and social crises now being confronted by the most vulnerable populations here and abroad.

Essays on politics, music and culture.